S Korea building collapse kills nine
RAW VIDEO: at least nine people are reported to have died and dozens trapped in a building collapse in South Korea.PT0M31S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-32wuf 620 349 February 18, 2014
Seoul: Ten people are dead and at least a dozen are feared trapped after an auditorium collapsed under heavy snow at a resort in the South Korean city of Gyeongju.
It is believed as many as 450 students were attending a concert in the building when the roof caved in on Monday evening.
Police officials quoted by South Korea's Yonhap news agency said 10 people were confirmed killed and at least a dozen more were thought still to be trapped, down from about 50 earlier.
Trapped: A woman caught in rubble waits to be rescued. Photo: AP
Nine of the dead were college students while the 10th fatality was believed to be a party organiser, police said. Three students and 11 party organisers remained unaccounted for.
A spokesman for the local fire service said earlier that 73 people were injured, 15 of them seriously. Rescue workers were continuing to search for the dozens more students feared trapped, he said.
Yonhap reported that police feared the toll could rise throughout the night, with about 400 rescuers on the scene.
Rescue operation: The collapsed building in Gyeongju, South Korea. Photo: AP
The collapse appeared to have been caused by heavy snow, which had piled up on the roof of the auditorium.
A witness said the building had taken less than 10 seconds to collapse. "Many students were carried from the building with injuries," she told news broadcaster YTN. "It was very chaotic."
"The ceiling came crashing down at the front near the stage," one student told the same news channel. "Then pandemonium broke out and everyone started rushing towards the exits, shouting and screaming."
Search: Rescue workers look for survivors in the collapsed building. Photo: AP
Footage broadcast on YTN showed fire officials using torches to search for people inside the building, its roof a mass of twisted metal.
Pictures from Yonhap showed injured students being carried away on stretchers from the largely metallic structure that appeared to have buckled in on itself.
"Heavy equipment has been brought in to clear the debris," the fire official said.
The auditorium was part of the Mauna Ocean Resort, which had been hosting an orientation event for close to 1000 students from a foreign language college in the southern city of Busan. The resort was in an area that has experienced exceptionally heavy snowfall, with more than 50 centimetres falling in the past week.
Fire officials told Yonhap they had difficulty reaching the resort, which is high up a mountain, and fresh snow was falling on Monday night.
South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won has launched an inquiry into the accident.